Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) is the UK branch of the Inti Wara Yassi Community and a charity registered in England and Wales (look us up on the Charities Commission website). Founded in 2008, FIWY supports CIWY's work by: providing administrative support to the organization, managing international fundraising (applying for grants, organizing events, creating on-line campaigns), raising international awareness of CIWY's work and establishing partnerships with other organizations.
FIWY are always on the lookout for new members and supporters. Membership is a great way to stay involved with Inti Wara Yassi's work. To find out more about becoming a 'Friend of Inti Wara Yassi' (a FIWY member), visit our membership page.
There are many ways to get involved with FIWY: by donating time or funds, or simply by spreading the word about our work. If you would like to find out more about how to get involved, email us at email@example.com, or check out the get involved section of this website.
FIWY has been a great help to CIWY over the years. Some of our most notable achievements are:
• Having donated over £99,000 to CIWY since 2008. Including significant donations towards the purchase of land, the construction of a clinic and quarantine area for Parque Jacj Cuisi and construction materials for animal enclosures.
• Having secured over £24,000 in grants for CIWY since December 2010.
• Providing information and support to hundreds of volunteers via the internet and email, thereby raising international awareness.
• The on-going updating and management of the CIWY website.
• The creation of a PayPal sponsorship facility.
• The creation and management of online fundraising campaigns via the charity website, Facebook, eBay and BT MyDonate.
• In October 2010, celebrating "Once in a Lifetime", a large-scale event in London for CIWY. The event brought together past volunteers, together with CIWY's President, Nena Baltazar, and raised more than £900.
If you have an idea for a fundraiser or you would like to help organize an event, please email FIWY at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIWY’s Latest News
Take a look at the CIWY News page for all the latest from FIWY and CIWY.
I am privileged to be the Chair of FIWY, and to work with my dedicated and capable fellow trustees, to further the work that Nena and her team do.
I had recently stepped down from a position as trustee/director of Friends of the Earth when, in 2015, I saw an advert to join a UK charity that rescues animals in Bolivia. I hadn't heard of CIWY but I researched and I thought, what a majestically simple idea: to take animals that have been abused and trafficked and make sure that it doesn't happen again. This is what we do in our Wildlife Custody Centres and through our education programmes. My partner and I made our first trip to Bolivia in 2016 when we visited all 3 of our Centres. Walking with Pumas and having our noses pulled by mischievous Capuchins and Macaws made us realise that paying the debt that we owe to nature can be bloody good fun, if sometimes painful!
And then you hear a Jaguar purring in your ear ...
The animals that we work with are not pets, they are guests who must be treated with the respect and the kindness that they have not experienced until they come to us. I urge our supporters to make the trip to Bolivia and to contribute to the difference that CIWY makes to some of the most beautiful animals that you will ever see. Working with CIWY is exhausting and demanding but it is one of the most worthwhile things that anyone could do. Most of our guests may never be re-released into the wild but we allow them to live out the rest of their lives with dignity.
It is frightening to contemplate the destruction that our own species has caused to our planet and its inhabitants. Despite - or because of - the scratches and the bites, volunteering with CIWY is a real adventure and one of the most satisfying ways that you can help put things right.
I am unusual amongst our team as I have not yet had the opportunity to personally visit the parks in Bolivia, but was so inspired by what I learned about CIWY’s fantastically valuable work and the enthusiasm of all those involved that I was motivated to help support FIWY, and was absolutely delighted to be appointed onto the Board of Trustees in 2015. With a background in animal behaviour, animal welfare science, education, and international development, many years of working within the international animal welfare NGO sector and, most importantly, a lifelong love of animals, I hoped I could do my part to contribute to this wonderful cause.
CIWY’s work tackles the incredibly challenging intertwined issues of animal welfare, wildlife trafficking and trade, conservation and community education, against a backdrop of a rapidly developing world and increasing pressures on the wildlife’s natural habitats. This may be a small charity with limited resources and tough challenges to contend with, but this is counteracted by the enthusiasm and dedication of all those who work so hard to protect the animals, not only for the present time, but for future generations too. I am honoured to be a part of FIWY, and excited for our future.
"I turned up in 2002 after travelling round Bolivia looking for something developmental to do. When I turned up it felt like a hippy commune. I spent a fortnight looking after Bilbo and the Mirador and was hooked. I spent a year there mostly failing to get funding, but also regularly helping out at the refuge. Then I came home: re-built the website, tried various things like PayPal, AdWords etc., did lessons in schools here where children wrote to Bolivian children and answered volunteer emails. Time became difficult so I handed over the emails, then became a trustee."
I have been involved with the Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi since 2003 when I first visited the park as a volunteer. Since then I have remained connected to CIWY in some way, whether it be returning as a volunteer, working within their administration structure or volunteering my time in the UK to help fundraise or put taking part in events.
In 2012 I made the decision to continue this support, by joining the devoted team at the Friends of Inti Wara Yassi, here in the UK. I have been on the board of trustees since that time, and am constantly inspired by the commitment of our supporters and their desire to continue their involvement with CIWY, irrelevant of their distance from Bolivia. It is a joy to hear of different people's stories and ways of innovatively supporting and raising the profile of the parks and I look forward to seeing how this continues to grow over the years to come.
I am passionate about CIWY's work, the good they create and the difference that they make in the world and it fills me with great pride and excitement to be associated with FIWY.
"I first visited the parks of CIWY back in 2002, when Quest Overseas - the volunteer organisation I work for - was looking for new projects to work with in South America. Since then I have been fortunate enough to visit them a few times every year and every visit is an inspiring, mind blowing and often bizarre experience. Whether it was hitching on the back of a lorry in search for a new park location, transporting an alligator or an ocelot on a public bus, or appearing on national television as Jane Goodall's translator, working with CIWY has always been memorable to say the least!
More importantly though, the Bolivians which have dedicated their entire lives to this incredible project are the main reason I am proud to be involved with CIWY. To see their dedication, drive and unwavering principles, and the difference this has made to the children the project supports, the tens of thousands of volunteers which have passed through the parks throughout the years, and of course the animals which would otherwise have not had a chance of survival or the quality of life which the project provides them, is both inspiring and humbling. I believe CIWY brings out the best in people, and to have a part in supporting such a community is something I am extremely proud of."
"I first visited Ambue Ari in 2007. I'd heard about it from a fellow traveller and initially planned to spend just 2 weeks volunteering there. Soon after arriving I fell head over heels in love with the place, the animals and people. My first 2 weeks went by in a flash and I couldn't bring myself to leave, so I extended my time there by another three and a half months. Since my first visit I have been going back every year, trying to spend as much time as possible at the parks: working with many different animals, contributing to numerous construction projects and taking on other responsibilities such as volunteer coordination. It truly is a special place, one that will stay in my heart forever.
I returned to the UK at the beginning of 2012, unsure for the first time when I'd be back in Bolivia, so I was very keen to stay involved however I could. Initially I worked part-time for FIWY, helping with fundraising and administration, and then took on the role of Trustee in 2016. FIWY has come a long way in the eight years since it was founded and I'm very excited to be part of its future development."
Dominic Ash | Trustee
When I travelled through South America back in 2002, an undoubted highlight was the time I spent at Machia working for CIWY and looking after the monkeys in the Mirador. Like many volunteers I signed-up for my initial period and then just kept extending - everything about the experience was great. From the good the charity strives to do every day and the obvious and infectious passion of the team, the Indiana Jones like-trek to the site and the views, being groomed by a Capuchin, to the daily catch-up with the other volunteers over a drink and the best empanadas you'll ever eat – I was hooked.
FIWY did a wonderful job of keeping in touch and giving news on the parks, animals and the Charity. So when I saw the opportunity to become a Trustee in 2015 and to be able to contribute to FIWY in a more meaningful way I jumped at the chance and I've been lucky enough to have been involved ever since.
The passion of my fellow trustees and the wider FIWY/CIWY teams continues to inspire and excite and makes me incredibly proud of the work we do here and in the magical jungles of Bolivia.
Helen Marchant | Treasurer
"I first volunteered at Parque Machia in April to May 2003. I looked after Rico, one of the Ocelot's for a month and was so inspired by the organisation and its work that I felt compelled to stay involved. On my return to the UK I got in touch with other ex-volunteers and became involved in helping to organise fund raising events, and managing the funds for the organisation. My role grew and I am now treasurer for the charity. As a direct result of my involvement with IWY, I ended up moving job sector two years ago and now work for another international charity where I also manage their programme finances."
Helen realizó el voluntariado en el Parque Machía desde abril hasta mayo de 2003. Las palabras de Helen: “Me inspiraron tanto la organización y su trabajo que quería seguir involucrada.”
I started working part-time as Fundraiser for FIWY in late 2016, having known about and admired CIWY's work for many years before. While I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the parks, my work over the last 12 years - in the UK at a primate rescue centre, as a consultant for the Born Free Foundation and in Colombia, where I worked in conservation projects alongside indigenous communities in the Amazon region – bears lots of similarities to CIWY's wonderful work for wildlife and people in Bolivia. In 2010, I met Nena when she visited the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, where I was working having returned from Colombia shortly before. I was in awe of her energy, passion and achievements and when, six years later, a friend forwarded me information about the opportunity to work with FIWY, I applied immediately. I love working with such a dedicated team and really hope to visit Bolivia in the not-too-distant future to volunteer at one of the parks.
Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) is our sister organization in the UK. They have been a major source of support since their founding in 2008. Find out more about FIWY here.
Quest Overseas organizes gap year trips for British and international students. Since 2001, Quest has worked with CIWY to bring much needed volunteers and funds. If you are interested in the programs they have with us, find out more here.